December 1st is World AIDS Day. My life has been turned upside down by AIDS and its devastating effects. In Ethiopia, I doubt there is a single person who is completely unaffected by HIV/AIDS. So often I am overwhelmed by this desperate crisis in our world and I wonder what on earth I can do? But here is the secret. Each one of us can make a difference – we can reach out and care about somebody whose life has been touched by HIV/AIDS.
Five Things You Can Do
1. Read: If you only have time to read one book, I recommend There Is No Me Without You: One Woman’s Odyssey to Rescue Her Country’s Children. Written by Melissa Fay Greene, an adoptive mother, the book tells the story of one Ethiopian woman who responded to the AIDS orphan crisis with practical compassion. It is a compelling and interesting read.
If you have time for two books, get 28: Stories of AIDS in Africa by Stephanie Nolen. My exposure to AIDS in Africa had been limited primarily to Ethiopia, but this book broadened my education by featuring a short story about twenty-eight different people across the continent and how AIDS has affected them. 28 will give you a quick education about HIV/AIDS in a captivating style.
A reader also recommended the book, Scared: A Novel on the Edge of the World, about orphans and AIDS in Swaziland. I have not read it yet, but after reading the reviews, I just added it to my Amazon cart.
2. Sponsor: For as little as $10.00 a month, you can provide care for an HIV+ orphan. Through Circle Embrace, a sponsorship program recently launched by From HIV to Home, you can join with others to create a Circle of sponsors for a child living with HIV/AIDS. Consider giving holiday gifts with a purpose by creating your own Circle. It is easy and only a click away.
3. Care: At the end of 2007, there were 11.7 million AIDS orphans in Africa alone. These are actual children, not just numbers. If the AIDS crisis seems remote to you, take a few moments to watch this video of the children of AHOPE. If you want to get even more personal, watch my family’s video of our Ethiopian adoption.
4. Shop with a purpose. The holidays will be here soon; this year purchase gifts that will benefit children with HIV/AIDS. In honor of World AIDS Day, From HIV to Home has a wonderful new necklace available. Make a donation of $50 or more and we will send one to you. I love the concept of embracing those with HIV/AIDS and the necklace looks great. All proceeds from this necklace go directly to the Circle Embrace Child Sponsorship Program.
Shop at the AHOPE Store which has everything from clothing and jewelry to aluminum water bottles.
I know both of these organizations personally, having previously volunteered for AHOPE, and currently working with From HIV to Home, and can confidently say that your donation will be put to good use.
World Vision is also an excellent organization offering gift-giving opportunities. You can give a gift to a child in the developing world in honor of your friend or family member. The options are endless, from two chickens ($25.00) to a sheep ($105.00).
5. Adopt: Consider adopting an HIV+ child. It isn’t as complicated as you might think. The last three years have seen an explosion in the number of families adopting HIV+ children. When we began the process, a handful of HIV+ children had been adopted from AHOPE, our daughters’ orphanage. Now, the children are finding families very quickly. For more information on HIV+ adoption, contact Adoption Advocates International.
Don’t wait until December 1st to wear a red ribbon. Do something today and when World AIDS Day arrives, you will be ready to tell somebody else what it is all about.
Note: I have had some requests from folks who would like to share this post on their blogs, in church newsletters, etc. I would be honored! Please feel free to share a link to this post. If you would like to share the actual content, please email me at [email protected]